During a recent haircut, I was telling my stylist about a scar on my forehead. It’s diagonal in the upper right corner of my forehead, and I’ve had it since I was four.
I have only a few memories of the first house we lived in and many of them are from photos. But, I do remember that my friend Janie lived next door and we played together most every day. One summer evening, I was standing by our side kitchen door watching for Janie to come home. I remember my mom calling out, “Don’t go to Janie’s house; supper is almost ready.” What did I do as soon as mama turned her head back to the stove? Yes, I did. I ran out the door straight over to Janie’s backyard. We were chasing each other around her picnic table…not a kiddie plastic one, but a real full-size wooden sharp cornered picnic table. It seems like I had only gone round once or twice when I heard mama yell out the door, “Michelle, get back over here!” I turned my head toward her, and the right corner of my forehead met the corner of the picnic table.
I have a memory of lying in the back of the car with streetlights going by. Whether it was actually dark outside by then, I’m not certain. But, I did end up in the ER with several stitches. I’ve had a scar for that act of disobedience for 50+ years.
As I was telling my stylist this story, I realized that sometimes the consequences of our bad choices stay with us always. Sometimes scars are physical and visible, whether they’re from our disobedience or someone else’s. More often, it seems, our scars are internal. Maybe your scar is pain from being hurt or from causing hurt to someone else. You have a hard time forgiving someone for causing that pain, or you can’t ever forgive yourself. Your scar might be from loss or being treated unfairly. Maybe your scar is nagging worry for a child or a spouse that you just can’t seem to shake. Your scars could be the result of long-term unmanageable anxiety or depression. Maybe it’s a secret no one else knows, but it’s always there affecting every relationship. So many things can scar and scar deeply, even permanently.
Whether your scar is visible or buried inside, if it’s the result of a sinful choice, know that our God is a God who heals. Psalms 103:3 says, “He [the Lord] forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.” He is a God who reconciles. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” He is a God who forgives. Colossians 1:14 says, “[He] purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
I love reading 2 Samuel 22, David’s song of deliverance. Here are few highlights:
2 He sang: “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
3 my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
He is my refuge, my savior,
the one who saves me from violence.
7 But in my distress I cried out to the LORD;
yes, I cried to my God for help.
He heard me from his sanctuary;
my cry reached his ears.
17 “He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
20 He led me to a place of safety;
he rescued me because he delights in me.
Beyond the reminder that God is our fortress and place of safety…and, we could park there quite a while…I hope you notice verse 20. Why is God our protector? Why does he rescue us? Why does he heal and save? Because he delights in us. And that delight is a reflection of his character, not our standing or performance or achievement. Likewise, neither we can’t lessen his delight by anything we don’t do or become. In spite of our sin or circumstances and the scars they might leave, God hears us and is our refuge. He will rescue us and will ultimately give us victory.
We often think of “reconciled” in a financial context like balancing the bank statement. But it also means to make a way for opposing beliefs and facts to exist together. In our sin, we oppose God. In fact, that sinfulness makes us his enemy. (James 4:4, Romans 5:10 ) That may not be our intention, but we all sin and fall short of God’s best (Romans 3:23.) The beauty of the Gospel is this: He reconciled us to himself, replacing our sin, faults and shame with righteousness, purity and holiness, making a way for us to live in relationship with him for eternity. That type of reconciliation, that type of love and sacrifice, can only come from a perfect, loving God. That's amazing grace!
May our scars also serve as reminders, prompting us not to repeat choices and decisions that lead to painful situations. We can’t undo or rewrite the past, but we can, by the grace of God, lean into his grace and learn not repeat the same harmful mistakes. I didn’t obey my mom 100% of the time while I was growing up, but I never chased a friend around a picnic table again.
All scripture from the Berean Study Bible.